NBA Picks: Bet Suns -7 against the Celtics

Darin Zank

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 2:02 PM GMT

The Phoenix Suns continue to be the most pleasant surprise in the NBA so far this season. Last year Phoenix won 25 games; this season the Suns have already won 31 games. And if the playoffs started today Phoenix, which figured to rank among the also-rans once again, would be the seven seed in the Western Conference.

The Suns will try to keep the good times rolling when they host the Boston Celtics for an NBA inter-conference match-up Wednesday night (9 pm ET).

Phoenix just played an overtime game Tuesday night, and is now favored by a touchdown for tonight. Is that asking too much?

Celts-Suns Betting Line

Most books we consulted opened Phoenix at right around –7 over Boston, with a total of 203.5, and both those numbers had held steady in the early betting.

Those who think the Celtics might win this game outright can get around +250 on the moneyline at various shops.

Game Set-Up

Phoenix, after going 25-57 last year, got off to a 9-9 start this season for new head coach Jeff Hornacek, then won four in a row and hasn't been below .500 since. The Suns went on a 10-2 run back in December, and recently won seven out of eight. But they did lose three of their last four games going into the All-Star break, although one of those defeats was a tough 103-97 decision at home to Miami last Tuesday.

Phoenix then got the second half to its season off to a good start with a 112-107 overtime victory at Denver Tuesday night. The Suns led by as many as 14 points, then trailed by five with less than a minute to go. But a couple of buckets forced overtime, where Gerald Green scored eight of his game-high 36 points to steal the victory.

Phoenix only shot 38 percent from the floor Tuesday night, but covered the spread as two-point favorites.

On the other side of this match-up Boston is 19-35 for new head coach Brad Stevens, as the franchise goes through a rebuilding process. The Celtics have been a streaky outfit this season; they started off by losing their first four games, then won their next four, then lost six in a row. They later lost nine in a row around the turn of the year, and seven out of eight after that.

But Boston did go into the All-Star break on a bit of an up note, winning four of its last six games.

Most recently the Celtics lost at home to shorthanded San Antonio one week ago 104-92. Boston only trailed by five points heading into the fourth quarter, but faded. On the night the Celts allowed the Spurs to shoot 50 percent from the field, and failed to cover as four-point home dogs.

Still, at 16 games under .500, the Celtics are only five games out of a playoff spot in a weak Eastern Conference.

Celts-Suns, Statistically Speaking

Boston ranks 24th in the league in shooting at less than 44 percent, just 28th in 3-point shooting at 33 percent but 11th in FT shooting at 77 percent. On D the Celtics rank 11th in FG defense, holding foes to 45 percent shooting, and their rebounding margin sits at exactly even (+0 boards per game).

Phoenix ranks ninth in the league in shooting at 46 percent, ninth in long-range bombing at 37 percent and 14th from the line at 76 percent. The Suns also rank 12th in FG defense at 45 percent, and they've been very good at defending the 3, limiting foes to less than 34 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

On averaged Phoenix is getting out-rebounded by about a half a board per game.

And both teams are averaging 15 turnovers per game.

Celts-Suns Recent History

Boston swept two games from Phoenix last season, but both teams have undergone a lot of changes since those games were played.

Celts-Suns Betting Trends

Boston is 26-27 ATS on the season, but 15-11 ATS on the road.

Phoenix is 34-17 ATS this season, 15-10 ATS at home.

Boston has leaned toward the UNDERS this season by 33-21 margin, as Celtics games have averaged 194 points.

Phoenix has titled toward the OVERS this year by a 28-22 margin, as Suns games have averaged 207 points.

Injury Update

Boston G Avery Bradley (14 PPG) has missed recent action with a bad ankle, and probably won't play  Wednesday night.

Phoenix, meanwhile, is still playing without G Eric Bledsoe (18 PPG), who's still rehabbing from that knee injury suffered back in January. Since he went down, though, the Suns have managed to go 12-10 both SU and ATS.

Free NBA Pick for Wednesday

One might think this might be a good place to fade Phoenix, considering they played an overtime game in Denver Tuesday night, flew home and now play tonight. And outside of Green the Suns shot the ball rather poorly in their first game since the All-Star break.

Meanwhile, Boston has had a week off.

But Tuesday's game might have helped Phoenix shake off the rust of the break. So in believing the Suns will shoot a little better than 38 percent tonight we'll go with Phoenix at the -7 points offered at Pinnacle for our NBA pick.

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